영국의 대표신문 가디안에 실린 러시아 아무르표범에 관한 기사입니다.
Harsh winter threatens rare Russian leopard
Amelia Gentleman in Vladivostok
Tuesday February 20, 2001
Russian wildlife experts are concerned that the tiny surviving population of the Amur leopard – one of the world’s most endangered species – may be devastated by the harshest winter to hit the country’s far east for 70 years.
They fear that there are no more than 25 or 30 of the subspecies left, most of them in the forests around Vladivostok.
Local protection groups say it is in immediate danger of extinction.
The leopard has evolved to cope with the Russian winter: it has long legs to help it walk through the snow and a reddish-yellow coat which grows 7cm thick towards the end of autumn. But experts are afraid that the surviving few may starve because huge numbers of deer, hares and badgers, on which it feeds, died when the temperature dropped to minus 60C.
Intense poverty on Russia’s eastern flank has hampered protection efforts. Despite anti-poaching campaigns local hunters persist in killing both the leopard and the threatened Amur tiger.
The Amur skin, with its distinctive colour and unusually large spots, is coveted by international fur traders. The skeleton is smuggled across the Chinese border for use in traditional medicines.
Although the law prescribes strict penalties for killing leopards, prosecutions are rare. Local judges appear to sympathise with the hunters, who see the leopard as an expensive threat to the livestock on which they depend.
The region is also becoming popular with rich Russians as a venue for licensed hunting. Even killing permitted animals like boar threatens the leopard by reducing its food supplies.
A UN Development Programme project to cultivate the nearby Tymangan basin as a commercial centre has caused alarm, because it would further diminish the dwindling strip of land where the surviving leopards live.
“This is the biggest and most beautiful of all leopards, but the situation it is in at the moment is catastrophic,” said Maria Vorontsova, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which sponsors an anti-poaching project.